Apr 28, 2011 8:31am
Re: TDIH - 1971
NRPS w/Jer at Fillmore East - April 25 - 29, 1971
"Ladies and Gentlemen... The Grateful Dead"
I have always been a big fan of this great run. I've had my taper copies of the Jer and Duane tracks that were taped on April 26 since the day Jimmy Watson let me dub from his copies in 1972. These tapes were circulating all over NJ at the time, thanks to Buddy Miller. I love that broom-closet musty smell I get from these tapes. NRPS opened for GD on this run - w/ Jer playing pedal steel all 5 nights. A clever NJ-dude had a friend who was working at the Fillmore East. Someone drills a hole in the wall at the SBD location there. There is a broom-closet behind this wall. They run a stealth cable from the SBD, through the hole in the wall, and into the broom closet. April 25 was perhaps a Taper's shakedown
or site-survey, and it wasn't taped. For the following 4 nights we have the Taper and a stealth reel-to-reel recording the SBD in the broom closet. Thanks Bill Gadsden and Buddy Miller for contributing to this unique piece of history. This may be the best privately taped
GD-run ever performed at The Fillmore East. Duane Allman sits in April 26. The Beach Boys appear on April 27. Tom Constanten plays on April 28.
likely taped on a Sony 630 tape deck
Bill Gadsden tells the story, since he's the one who first put these tape sources back into circulation.
The Story of the Tapes
"Who's the Dead freak?" With that innocuous question the story of these tapes begins. It was the summer of 1973, between attending 6/10/73 at R.F.K. Stadium and the Watkins Glen soundcheck. A friend of mine was listening to Live/Dead at his parent's house. A local cabinetmaker was working at the house and asked the question. He mentioned that he had a bunch of Dead tapes from the Fillmore East back at his house. For about a year, three 90-minute composites of the 4/71 shows had made their way around taping circles in the Princeton, N.J. area, but not the complete shows.
Within hours, Peter Kafer and I were at the cabinet shop with our reel to reel decks. What we found when we got there were 11 master reels of the 4/71 shows, along with a host of other 1st and 2nd generation tapes from the Fillmore East of other bands, but also including 9/20/70. Also there were the 1st generation reels from 11/23/70 at the Anderson Theater.
The 4/26-29/71 master reels were recorded by an individual named Buddy Miller, a local N. J. area musician. Buddy has become a very well respected, and recorded, Nashville guitarist. He is currently touring with Emmy Lou Harris, and can be heard on her current CD, Red Dirt Girl. Buddy was a friend of the cabinetmaker and, since he travelled a great deal, the tapes resided at the cabinet shop. Buddy was set up to record these shows by a friend who was a member of the Fillmore East soundcrew.
These shows were NOT recorded in the same manner as the February '70,the May 15, '70 show, and the material from the September 18, 19, '70 shows. For the April '71 shows, a feed was run off the soundboard, which was upstairs in a balcony box, stageleft. There is a good picture of the soundbooth in Amalie Rothchild's book, Live at the Fillmore East. The feed went from the soundboard into a broomcloset nearby, literally a broomcloset. Buddy remembers a bucket and mop! The feed was mixed down on two little Shure line mixers and recorded on a middle of the line Sony deck onto BASF 90 minute reels at 7 1/2 ips. There was also a little consumer Dolby B unit used, which is why these recordings seem so 'bright'.
We taped everything that summer of 1973 onto BASF reels. The following fall, Peter took his reels with him to California to begin his freshman year at U.C., Berkeley. From here he met various West coast tapers such as Bob Menke and Rob Bertrando, and the tapes began their circulation on the West coast. I took mine to Trinity College in Connecticut and began to circulate them out East.
Two years later, we wanted to retape the original masters, since we now had somewhat better decks and Maxell reel to reel tape had come on the market. We recopied everything. At this time, Buddy Miller simply gave us many of the Fillmore and Anderson Theater reels for essentially the cost of blank tape. His own musical interests had moved on. Of the 4/71 masters, we were given 6 of the 11 reels and Buddy retained the other 5. I've had these reels in my possession since then.
Why has it taken so long for these reels to enter the digital world? Basically because I dropped out of the whole tape collecting scene about 1980 due to family, career, etc.
However, two of my old taping buddies, Bernie Tenenbaum and Chris Zingg, implored me to get my reels digitized before the analog reels degraded. Fortunately they had been safely stored in cardboard boxes, away from heat and light, in the back of a closet. I knew nothing of the digital world, didn't have a DAT or CD machine, had no idea what a tree or a 'B and P' was, and was absolutely amazed at how big the community of collectors had become. When I effectively left it at the end of the '70s, it was really only a handful of people.
This past Spring I reconnected with Buddy Miller for the first time in over 20 years. He actually was able to dig up 2 of the 5 original BASF masters that he had hung onto, and mailed them up to me. With 8 of the original 11 now in hand, and my complete set of Maxell 1st gen. copies to fill in the blanks for the still missing 3 masters, I digitized the shows. The missing reels, #'s 4, 5, and 6, run from 4/27 Hard to Handle through the pre-break portion of Bird Song on 4/28. For this I used the Maxells. Along the way, I was directed to Jim Wise for advice and assistance in digitizing and getting the shows out into the community.
I transferred the shows to CD incorporating the New Riders sets, instead of treating them discreetly. I really believe that the performances should be considered in their entirety. Back in the '70s when these shows got circulated, the Riders sets got ignored after awhile, which was a shame. They are a lot of fun to listen to, and a great warmup for the Dead show to follow.
The reels were played on a Revox A77 and digitized directly onto an Alesis Masterlink ML9600, sampling at 16 bit, 44.1 k. The Alesis was a wonderful solution for someone in my position, sitting on a bunch of reels. It removed the intermediate step of re-recording everything onto DAT. For those who are curious about the Masterlink, check it out at www.alesis.com.
One final bit of information that makes this whole 27 year story all the more fascinating is that these 2 track masters were used for the recent 16 track release, Ladies and Gentlemen....The Grateful Dead. While the 16 track recordings had Bill Graham's introduction and his tribute/tirade speech before In the Midnight Hour on 4/29, it was not nearly as strong and present as it was on the 2 tracks for some reason.Through an introduction facilitated by Jim Wise, Jeffrey Norman and David Lemieux asked if I could send out the 2 tracks to be used on the release. With 5 days to go before the production CDs were due at the printing plant, I FedEx'ed them out and they were used for those two Bill Graham pieces. A wonderful chapter after all these years.
There has always been a question about 4/25/71. The BASF master labelled #1 begins with Big Boss Man from 4/26. Back in 1973 we saw nothing of any taping of 4/25's show. I have asked Buddy about it and, after 29 years, he doesn't believe he recorded it, which would be consistent with 4/26 being #1. Just a guess: since the record company was there to record the run, our surrepticious broomcloset tapers just lay low the first night to make sure it was clear to try to tape. I know there has been a high-gen fragment of 4/25 that has circulated for years that supposedly came from cassette masters that were also made of these shows. While anything is possible, if this were true one would have to wonder why no material from cassette has ever surfaced of any of the other 4 nights. The mystery remains, but one day I am gonna have to put this mystery to rest.
I hope everyone enjoys these new and improved versions of the 4/71 Fillmore East shows. They have always been the heart of my Dead collection and many others as well, I suspect.